Macau, then and now
In my last blog post I wrote about the renovations I'm doing to an apartment I recently bought in Macau and how I'm making it into my perfect home. We're in the cabinet-building stage now, and I'm hopeful that everything will be ready to go by the end of September. I'm looking forward to having a place I can really come home. When I rent a place, I never really feel like it's my home. I feel like I'm just waiting around to pack and move again.
It's a little surprising to admit, but Macau feels like my home now. Over the last five years I've slowly made good friends that I hang out with every weekend. I've bonded with girl friends with whom I have afternoon tea on a weekly basis. I even got married and bought an apartment. I've settled in here in Macau.
That's not what I was expecting when I first came here five years ago. Macau is very different from what I was used to in Melbourne. I moved from Shanghai to Melbourne when I was 9 and then spent 16 years in Melbourne before coming to Macau. Melbourne has a more laidback speed to how the city runs. I really enjoyed that there was not always that rush to get somewhere or people pushing you, almost that New York City kind of feel.
Macau is very similar. I wouldn't say things close here because things don't close ever. But it is a more chilled out place because people are coming here for holidays and vacations. They're here to have fun. They're not rushing to go to work or to conquer the world.
It was pretty much a case of "right place, right time" for me. I felt like my career path was going to be better suited for Macau, and because I speak the language the transition for me wasn't too great. And these days, with so many mainlanders coming to Macau for holiday, it's even easier for me. The casinos have all hired a lot of Mandarin-speaking staff to accommodate the mainlanders.
When I first came to Macau, that wasn't the case. It was much more Cantonese-speaking based, and while I can understand Cantonese, I'm fluent in Mandarin. Now even the taxi drivers realize that there are a lot more mainland people who speak Mandarin and they've been more comfortable speaking the language.
The poker has changed in a similar way. The biggest difference between now and when I first came to Macau is the number of players coming from China. Back then, maybe 10 players would come over from the mainland for a tournament series. Now it might be 400. The growth is phenomenal. There's a lot more poker rooms and a lot more poker tournaments happening in mainland China now, in places like Sanya. In Macau we now get a lot of players who started playing tournament poker in the mainland and want to travel to play these events.
Like I said, when I first came here five years ago, I didn't think of Macau as a place I'd call home. But now, after five years and 20 Asia Player of the Year final tables (a record), I can't think of any place else that suits me quite as well as Macau does.
Celina Lin is a member of Team PokerStars Pro